Policy for work in hot weather not applied

2010-02-18 00:00

THE Msunduzi Municipality’s policy for heat management in high temperatures appears good in theory, but is not being implemented.

According to Sipho Sithole of the Occupational Health Unit, every department should be using a hygrometer.

This device measures the temperature in relation to the humidity. When the hygrometer indicates temperatures and humidity too high for physical labour, supervisors should instruct their workers to stop. This is in compliance with the Heat Stress Management Policy, which was drafted in 1999.

This policy identifies different levels of physical labour; light, moderate and heavy duty.

In extremely high temperatures, those engaged in heavy duty labour should be relieved of their duties until the harsh weather subsides, while those with a “light” level of physical labour are able to continue working.

According to Roads supervisor Vusi Njilo, supervisors are now expected to use their own discretion.

“We don’t have something to measure with; we rely on the supervisors to tell workers to stop if it gets too hot.”

Njilo said supervisors are sometimes advised by the Municipal Clinic and, at other times, are required to watch the weather forecasts on television to make a decision.

He said the problem is bigger than the absence of the actual hygrometer.

“Even if we had them, we need trained guys who know how to use them and decipher the readings.”

A superintendent in the municipality who asked to remain anonymous said the municipality had done all it can to implement the system.

“We train these people, we give them these things and they just don’t use them,” he said.

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